Between chip shortages, supply chain breakdowns, and ongoing inflation, finding a high-end laptop for less than $2,000 can be impossible. Acer’s 16-inch Swift Edge model makes the case that it’s still possible to buy an ultrabook-class laptop for not only less than $2,000, but less than $1,500. Its thin, light chassis, Ryzen 7 CPU, DDR5 memory, and 4K display all shout “premium,” even though the price point is more than $500 less than similarly sized and equipped MacBook Pros.
Of course, this amazingly low sticker price comes with some concessions that you should be aware of. High-concept design and ultra-rigid construction are left behind here in favor of raw power. Battery life is also shorter than pricier models. In return, you’re getting performance that can handle anything you throw at it — and handle it quickly.
This review will help you decide if the balance Acer has found between performance, build quality, and price makes the Swift Edge the ideal laptop for you.
|AMD Ryzen 7 6800U
|16-inch 3840×2400 OLED panel with 60Hz refresh rate
|16GB DDR5 (up to 32GB available)
|1TB Gen 4 NVME SSD
|1080p at 60FPS
|54Wh, rated for up to 10.5 hours
|2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 20Gbps with DisplayPort over USB), 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x HDMI 2.1 (HDCP support), 1 combo headphone / microphone jack
|Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
|Weight and dimensions
|2.58 pounds | 14.04 x 9.5 x 0.51 inches or 356.7 x 242.3 x 12.95 millimeters
I would say this is the least noticeable feature of the Swift Edge. While there isn’t a single part of the laptop that’s poorly made, most things are… serviceable. The outer shell, for example, is completely metallic, but it’s thinner metal than most laptops with such high-end internals, and there’s more flex than I’d like.
This theme continues on the keyboard. It provides an average level of comfort and typing feel, with some notable things in the typing deck. That said, the touchpad provides a satisfying mechanical click, and is as responsive and accurate as any I’ve used recently on a Windows-based laptop.
The 4K display, the the high point of the system, surrounded by pleasingly thin bezels, allowing its gorgeous OLED panel to shine (more on this later). The higher-than-16:9 aspect ratio also provides plenty of screen real estate for working and browsing websites. That beauty and practicality go a long way towards making you forget about the external shell and keyboard that could be at home on a much cheaper laptop.
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Features and ports
Another win is the selection of ports on the Swift Edge. While some expensive models add even more cost by requiring dongles and adapters, this more budget-friendly model from Acer offers two USB-A and two USB-C ports, probably enough for your peripherals and storage. cover. It also adds extra flexibility to your setup by expanding the included HDMI 2.1 port with DisplayPort over USB Type-C support for additional monitors.
Those extra displays may struggle to compete with the Swift Edge’s built-in screen. I have waffled from time to time on the need for 4K displays under 24 inches. But, because of the great pixel density and gorgeous color saturation (provided by the OLED panel) I stop up and enjoy the show. The video streaming looked crisp, with deep, rich blacks, and the text looked razor sharp at all sizes.
The glossy coating is more resistant to background glare than other models I’ve reviewed recently. Between this and the 400 nits of brightness, you should have no trouble doing work in direct sunlight. Of course, that beautiful display consumes electricity, but we’ll discuss that more in the next section.
About that web cam…
I should also cover the included 1080p webcam. I won’t be as strict as I was with the built-in webcam in Lenovo’s ThinkPad Z16, which I recently reviewed. There are two reasons for this. First of all, Acer failed to show off the webcam as a demonstration, instead listing it on its datasheet as an average 1080p laptop camera, unlike Lenovo’s decision to permanently highlight its cover laptop. Second, for all that lack of attention, it performed about the same as Lenovo’s webcam: exactly how you’d expect a mediocre 1080p webcam built into a thin and light laptop to look.
It’s not the worst I’ve ever used, but the look is a bit noisy, not quite as HD-as-you-expect that most laptop web cameras suffer from . However, it is fully usable for Zoom calls and the like.
Finally, I will note that the built-in stereo speakers are fine. They won’t blow you away, but they won’t distort your audio either and they don’t get too detailed at higher volumes either, which is nice for media consumption.
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Performance and battery life
This is where the sacrifices for other features of the Swift Edge pay off. The Ryzen 7 CPU and 16GB of DDR5 RAM (the latest standard) provided exceptional performance in almost every task I threw at them. Basic Windows and productivity actions felt immediate, even when trying to clean the unit with many open browser tabs and several running programs. While it couldn’t hold up to the Ryzen 9 CPU in that Lenovo model mentioned above, it came a lot closer than something with an MSRP $300+ below that model should expect.
The only area where it fell a bit short was gaming. I should emphasize, the Swift Edge is not being marketed as a gaming PC. However, high-end laptops can usually play most mid-range games, even if they can’t offer usable frame rates on AAA titles. Swift Edge performance is barely usable in games like Overwatch 2 and Luachra, and fine for older titles like League of Legends or any retro/2D games you might want. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it for more than very casual gaming.
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Gaming performance is a nice bonus in a work/school laptop, but battery life is usually critical. Acer rates the Swift Edge at 10.5 hours for video playback and 7.5 hours for the MobileMark 2018 benchmark. I found the lower number closer to reality. Most full charges lasted around 5.5 to 7 hours. If the system is pushed hard that figure could be reduced to as low as 3 hours, and it could be extended to as long as 8 hours with some batter saving measures in place. It is a realistic prospect against the charge.
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This means you shouldn’t expect all-day battery life. But, it was never realistic to expect a 16-inch, 4K resolution display to match the 13-inch, HD laptops pushing over 10 times. Another trade-off worth noting. If you need 10+ hours of battery life, you’ll need to consider a smaller, lower-resolution display, or a heavier laptop. You can’t have it, especially at this price point.
I hope I’ve illustrated the Swift Edge’s highs and lows in a way that will help you decide if its skills and shortcomings are suitable for your needs. I believe the ideal owner would be someone who can take full advantage of the larger 4K display. If you’re constantly struggling with shorter battery life, or doing basic productivity work, all those pixels are going to waste.
However, if you’re a content creator who produces photos or videos at 4K resolution or a content consumer who wants your streaming video to look its best, you’ll get a taste of all this OLED panel has to offer. . You’ll also need to plug in from time to time to keep that work or entertainment going, although not for long thanks to the included 65W charger.
There are options that get you a little closer to having everything, but you’ll have to shell out $500+ more, and even then you’ll be leaving things like a 4K display behind. That fact alone makes the budget-friendly Swift Edge a great choice for the shopper who needs a solid workhorse laptop with one of the best 16-inch displays I’ve seen on a laptop under $2,000.
Other options to consider
If build quality is more important to you than a 4K display, and you can stretch your budget a bit more, Lenovo’s ThinkPad Z16 is a beautiful laptop with a Ryzen 9 powerhouse at its core.
If you need something with longer battery life, Dell’s XPS 13 Plus is one of the latest and greatest daytime laptops, with a battery plus of 13 hours.
The perpetual elephant in the room whenever you’re shopping for a laptop, Apple’s latest 16-inch MacBook Pro is the king of battery life with up to 21 hours of use thanks to its super-powerful M1 Pro core , very integrated.